Really, the only thing that can make this defeat any worse is staring down the barrel of yet another Manning vs. Brady showdown. Time to avoid ESPN at all costs.
Yesterday couldn’t have gone any worse. And yet, there we were, down a score, with a chance to kick an onside kick with a little over a minute to go. Obviously, not an ideal scenario – not something you’re praying for going into a game like that. But, after the way the Seahawks looked in the first half, it’s really all you could hope for.
I woke up yesterday with just the WORST feeling about the game. I don’t know why. I certainly didn’t expect Carolina to jump out to a 31-0 lead. But, for some reason, I couldn’t help feel like we were in for a bad day. Maybe it’s because just about every Seahawks fan thought this game was going to be a cakewalk.
For the record, my impressions after this game are 100% different than they were after last week. In spite of the Vikings missing a chipshot field goal – and a VERY likely victory – I thought the Seahawks were the better team. This week, I don’t think there’s any way you can say the Seahawks are a better team than Carolina. We may have more talented players at certain positions, but as a team, the Panthers were better this year, and they showed us all why yesterday.
The Seahawks are flawed. They’re not BAD, but they did take a bit of a step back in 2015, while at the same time sort of taking a step forward as well. For as great as Russell Wilson has been in the second half of the season, he’s still prone to falling back to his old tricks when consistent pressure is getting to him. That can be a good thing, like when he grabs an errant snap and turns it into a 35-yard gain against the Vikings. But, it can also be bad, like when he holds onto the ball too long, trying to make something happen, and then gets dropped for a 10-yard loss when he had PLENTY of time to throw the ball away. While I like the improved pocket play out of Wilson this year – and hope he builds on that in the years to come – it wouldn’t hurt to have him play a little smarter on some of those plays and look to live another day.
Of course, our Achilles heel the whole year reared its ugly head – especially in the first half – with poor offensive line play. We couldn’t run, nor could we stop their pass rush between the tackles, and I think it’s pretty plain to see this team needs a major upgrade, really, at all five offensive line positions.
Moving along, I’d also say the 2015 Seahawks had some serious flaws on defense. Yeah, I know, led the league in scoring and was second in yards. Big deal. The Seahawks made their hay against some really shitty offensive teams this year (Chicago, Detroit, Frisco twice, Baltimore, Minnesota, Dallas, Cleveland), and yet look at the point totals we gave up to these teams:
- St. Louis – 34
- Green Bay – 27
- Cincinnati – 27
- Carolina – 27
- Arizona – 39
- Pittsburgh – 30
- St. Louis – 23
- Carolina – 31
That’s four games where we gave up over 30 points; THIS is your elite defense? Now, I get it, we’ve been spoiled. We had one of the all-time greatest defenses in 2013, and it’s going to be hard to live up to that standard. That defense made the good offenses look mediocre and the mediocre offenses look non-existent. The 2015 Seahawks aren’t bad on defense, but you can’t say they haven’t taken a step back. And, I’m sorry, but it’s obviously not all Cary Williams’ fault.
I thought Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril, and K.J. Wright really lived up to the standard they’ve set as pros. Throw in Mebane and Rubin as well; those guys were phenomenal and – in spite of yesterday’s performance – the rush defense was no joke this season. As for everyone else on that side of the ball, I don’t know what happened. Maybe we’ll find out they were dealing with nagging injuries that prevented them from playing up to their abilities. I saw a drop-off in the number of big plays by Earl Thomas. I saw a HUGE drop-off in the number of big plays by Kam Chancellor. I thought Bobby Wagner was okay, but he didn’t seem to have as many impact games as I’m used to. Bruce Irvin never really popped, in spite of this being a contract year.
And, if you just look at this unit as a whole, I think something was really missing. Too many breakdowns in coverage. Too many guys WIDE OPEN. You know teams are going to try to beat this defense with quick passing, so instead of playing so much zone, why not play more man-to-man, in hopes that it’ll give our ferocious defensive line enough time to pressure the quarterback? One of the lesser talked-about aspects of this season is that Kris Richard is a rookie defensive coordinator. He’s going to have his growing pains, just like anybody. Hopefully, he’ll get his house in order and help this team get back to its old, punishing ways.
I don’t want it to sound like I’m just calling everybody out here. I’m not angry with this team. Just disappointed, like everyone is, with how the season ended. There’s still A LOT to like about this team. In the coming days, I’ll touch on that, as well as what this team needs to do to get better. For today, I’m just going to wallow a little bit more, and then I’ll be okay.
One of the better aspects of losing the way we were losing yesterday – having the doors blown off in the first half – is that you can start preparing yourself for the inevitable that much sooner. I’d lose like this a thousand times before I’d lose like we did in that Super Bowl again. Which, of course, got me to thinking: the decision to pass there on that final play is now DOUBLY atrocious, because we couldn’t come back and right that wrong this season. Now, it’s been TWO years since our last Super Bowl victory. And, a loss like yesterday’s – and a season like 2015’s – just goes to show you how difficult it is, not just WINNING a Super Bowl, but getting there in the first place. We could’ve had 2 titles, and with that, losing to the Panthers wouldn’t feel quite as awful. Instead, we have 1 title, and you can’t help but wonder if/when we might get another.
The Peak Seahawks Era looks to be coming to a close. But, the Championship Window is still open (I just don’t think we’ll ever be quite as good as we’d been from 2012-2015). Now, it’s time to go to work and rectify all that needs improving.